How SCORE helped. 

Women of all ages find ways to turn their passions into small business opportunities that help local economies and create vibrant, thriving communities. One of these women is SCORE client Kristen Richards, owner of Front Porch Baking Co. in Millersville, PA.

Baking as a Connection to Memory

Kristen learned the art of baking from her grandmother, and those lessons would form a touchstone that would sustain her throughout her career.

"Growing up, I was strongly influenced by my German grandmother, Elsie, who moved to America with my mother and uncle in the late 1950s. My grandmother taught me the importance of baking, as well as the importance of incorporating baking into everyday life. Instead of the classic American recipes, many learn from their grandmothers, Elsie taught me how to bake European recipes (such as stollen, rye breads, pfeffernusse cookies, and more). As I moved from place to place (before returning home to PA in 2003), baking became a way to bring me back to the memories I cherished with her."

    - Kristen Richards, owner of Front Porch Baking Co.

This early affinity for baking with her grandmother led to a degree from the PA School of Culinary Arts for Baking and Pastry. Kristen held various positions baking along the East Coast before returning to Lancaster to become the Pastry Chef at The Pressroom Restaurant. This journey sparked the realization that "baking behind-the-scenes in someone else's kitchen was no longer enough for me. I wanted to bake from the heart and use my voice to impact my community through my own bakery."

SCORE Clients

Creating A Recipe for Small Business Success

Kristen began to assemble the ingredients she would need to create a successful small business. She wisely realized that baking a rich, sweet stollen is not alone the basis for a profitable business plan. Kristen began her journey by completing various leadership and management courses. In 2017 Kristen joined the Women's Business Circle series through ASSETS. The Business Circle always holds a session that includes the volunteer mentors of SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon, and Kristen connected with SCORE volunteer mentor Kevin St. Cyr.

"I met Kristen Richards in the Fall of 2017 following her presentation to a panel of SCORE mentors as part of an ASSETS cohort. After the presentations were completed, the presenters were encouraged to mingle and chat with SCORE volunteers. Kristen decided to request a mentor after that event."

   - Kevin Saint Cyr, SCORE volunteer mentor

Kevin found Kristen to be a dedicated client who followed her dream of starting her bakery with determined resolve. They worked together on issues that included transitioning from the status of an employee to that of a small business owner. Kevin assisted Kristen in developing a business plan for her new bakery that included determining locations, equipment required, startup costs, and a road to profitability.

"Working with my mentor provided and continues to provide me with an outsider outlook on my business who can always show me the objectives and be a sounding board to problem solve. Having the chance to connect with my mentor helped me map out a business plan and a timeline for my business startup projection."

    - Kristen Richards, owner of Front Porch Baking Co.

SCORE Client with SCORE Mentor

Taking Those Front Porch Steps

By the autumn of 2020, Kristen was ready to open Front Porch Baking Co. as a stand at The Lancaster Marketplace. Despite the restrictions and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, her baked goods received strong community support, and Kristen flourished in an atmosphere she describes "as close to being a cottage baker as I could personally get here."

But fate had other plans for Kristen's Front Steps business journey. Just five months after opening her stand, The Lancaster Marketplace announced plans to close permanently. Momentum was on her side, and Kristen quickly seized the opportunity to sign a lease for a storefront property in Millersville with more square feet and room to expand Front Porch Baking Co.

"Initially, I wanted to ease into my business, work part-time and start my business part-time, but I found myself needing to maintain a momentum I had picked up at the beginning of 2020 and not wanting to lose that following. A handful of pivots have essentially sped up my business growth much sooner than anticipated, but I am incredibly grateful for each of them."

    - Kristen Richards, owner of Front Porch Baking Co.

SCORE mentor Kevin Saint. Cyr is hard-pressed to choose favorites between Kristen's sourdough cinnamon buns and her determination to forge ahead despite any obstacles.

"Kristen launched her business during the COVID pandemic. She creatively used multiple channels, including direct sales to consumers at her stand and via e-commerce and door-to-door shipments. She has created a loyal social media following with authentic and meaningful content and repeat customers for her breads and baked goods through superb quality."

    - Kevin Saint Cyr, SCORE volunteer mentor

SCORE Client with SCORE Mentor

SCORE as the Starter to Encourage a Small Business to Rise

Every baker knows the importance of the proper environment needed to create perfect bread dough. A good business plan for a baker should include the "starter" of a SCORE mentor to provide free guidance and advice as you navigate the journey towards small business success.

"I would say it's a fantastic starting point to work with a SCORE mentor! I find it essential to make sure your mentor is someone you connect with to achieve the best results. I feel that my mentor has my best interest at all times. That helps me to feel confident in the decisions I make for my business after we meet. As my business continues to grow, I'll plan to meet with my SCORE mentor twice a year at least to discuss any and all areas of my business where I feel I need guidance or assistance that either he can provide me or connect me with someone who can."

    - Kristen Richards, owner of Front Porch Baking Co.

SCORE Clients

Front Porch Baking Co. Owner with SCORE Mentor